Parents may not only lose their patience but may wish they were losing their hearing when an aggressive child gets in the habit of yelling when a question is not answered immediately. Often negative behaviors such as yelling, pushing or throwing a tantrum become an almost automatic response to any provocation. When this happens with a toddler or elementary school age child, it is necessary to intervene.
Consider the stimulus for your child’s aggressive and loud reaction. Rather than reflecting impatience or an inability to accept “no,” yelling could mark a young child’s reaction to frustration. A raised voice may also be the normal tenor of a very busy household so that a child increases the volume to be heard. In rare instances, a child who is prone to allergies or recurrent ear infections may have a loss of hearing. Whatever the reason, yelling is rarely an acceptable form of communication, so rechannel your child’s outbursts.
How to deal with loud and aggressive children
Join forces. In clear, simple terms, suggest that your family has a problem. Be sure to use the term “we,” drawing your child into a plan that includes him rather than one that is “about” him.
Provide a model. Are there others in the house who use a tone of voice that is louder than necessary? It will be easier to change the pattern if everyone joins the effort.
Identify the problem. For a few days, keep a record of the times at which your child yells so you can clarify the cause. Discuss your findings and ask your child why yelling is not acceptable. Play out a common scenario, but this time tape your child so he can hear himself.
Design a plan together. Tell your child a yelled request will be an ignored request. Role-play situations so your child gains a sense of his new voice.
Play a waiting game. When your child yells, wait for him to alter his tone before responding.
Keep a tally. Make a chart and horizontally list the days of the week. Divide each day into several periods, morning, afternoon and evening. Using the chart, tally the time periods your child uses a normal tone of voice at home. If the time frame is too long for your child to be frequently successful, further divide the periods. At the bottom draw a grab bag and write a number, designating how many time periods are required for your child to earn a reward such as a pull from the grab bag. On the first round, your child might be rewarded when he remembers to use an appropriate voice once. The next round increase it to two times. By gradually increasing the requirements, you strengthen the behavior and encourage success. You might also discuss with your child’s teacher the possibility of implementing a similar procedure at school.
Watch for good behavior. Your child’s skills are new, so you will have to catch him trying to maintain his new tone of voice. In the beginning, respond as soon as possible after he uses the softer tone of voice or waits for your response.